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March 17, 2017

Brad Underwood

Phil Forte, III

Leyton Hammonds

Jawun Evans

Indianapolis, Indiana


THE MODERATOR: We will take an opening statement from Coach Underwood, and then we'll open it up for ten minutes for anyone. Coach?

COACH UNDERWOOD: A tremendous amount of credit to Michigan. They're a very, very good basketball team, played extremely well today.

You run into so many problems with trying to defend Michigan, and John does a great job of spacing the floor. They have so many shooters.

It gets hard to take everything away from them. I thought the first half, we were very good at defending the 3-point line, trying to keep them in front of us. We did a great job on Walton the first half. He only had 7.

But, again, the second half was -- you go 11 of 15 from the 3, that's hard to do in a gym by yourself. And they hit some hard shots. Give them credit. I'm very, very proud of these young men up here.

This group has been through a lot this year. When you talk about the death of a teammate, when you talk about a trip to Maui and going 10-2 in the non-league and starting 0-6 and then a great run to turn it around, I think it speaks volumes to the character of our locker room.

I couldn't be prouder of a group of guys. It's never great to have a season end. I thought we could have made some noise in this thing. Today, we just weren't good enough, and give a lot of credit to Michigan.

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Coach or the players.

Q. Jawun and Phil, seemed like the game sort of got out of your control about four, five minutes left. Everybody is scoring every possessions and you had three or four possessions where you didn't score. Do you remember that stretch and what do you think went wrong during those possessions?
JAWUN EVANS: I just felt like we kind of got confused at times. But also, we just were trying to figure out who we wanted to score the ball. So that's what happened.

PHIL FORTE: We just had a few lapses on defense. And when you play a team like Michigan, you can't do that. And when you get into a scoring match, and you don't score, obviously they're going to make a little run.

Q. Coach, how difficult is it to keep your team motivated when the other team is just draining 3s that are somewhat ridiculous at times?
COACH UNDERWOOD: It's what we do. We do the same thing. We see it every day in practice. We weren't the number one offensive team in the country from an efficiency standpoint.

It's one of those deals, we shot 55 percent in the NCAA tournament and just lost in the first round. The game is evolving into this. This goes against basically every stereotype you know.

It's one I've got to grasp, out-rebound an opponent 40-21 and lose. The game's changing. The 3-point line is changing that way. We saw teams in our league that did the same thing.

I think it's a tribute to what we try to do. We're everyday guys who try to play every play. And no matter what the consequences, we could have very easily folded. As long as there's officials on the court, time on the clock, and they're keeping score, we're going to keep fighting.

This team, I'm proud of. We're resilient and, again, these two seniors deserve a lot of the credit for that.

Q. For Leyton, both teams got off to a sort of a slow start. It wasn't a wild game early. What triggered to get both teams' offenses really going?
LEYTON HAMMONDS: I just felt like defensively, when you get stops, get a couple stops in a row, it kind of gets your offense going. Especially with us, we're really well in the first seven seconds of a shot clock. Once we get a stop and a defensive rebound and let Jawun do his thing, that's been our motto. We got a couple stops in a row, three stops in a row. Then you kind of start feeling it on offense. Once the ball goes in, you start getting your rhythm.

Q. Brad, you went to a zone for a few plays, and you didn't stay with it. You did a lot of -- looked like you switched every screen most of the game. Was that what you were going to do no matter what? How did you feel about that defensive front?
COACH UNDERWOOD: In the Big Ten tournament, Derrick Walton took 51 shots that were not break-away steal layups. 45 of them were jump shots. And so switching was going to -- you know, they were the third percentile in the country in post-ups.

So we weren't overly concerned with that. It was a matter of trying to stop them from shooting in the paint and step-in 3s. We wanted to force them to dribble if they wanted to go up Mitch, so be it, and/or Leyton. To their credit, they made some shots. If you get into a rotation game with them in terms of hedging ball screens or doing that, you are going to lose because they pass it so well. They play so well together.

I felt pretty good about it. We worked on it a great deal and, for the most part, the only thing that hurt us in the first half was Wilson had six offensive rebounds or three offensive rebounds. But, like I said, there's a little give and take when you play Michigan.

Q. Jawun, Jeff had a really strong game in terms of percentage. I think he was 6 of 8 shooting, but he didn't get a lot of shots. Was Michigan doing anything to take him away from getting shots? Why so few shots for Jeffrey?
JAWUN EVANS: I feel like they played Jeff kind of good in a way. But, also, just wasn't that kind of night for him, I guess. I can't tell you. Can't tell you why he didn't have as many shots as he should, but just one of them nights.

Q. Phil, looked like they were committed to not letting you shoot. You started putting the ball on the floor, found a couple of 3s off the dribble and also in the paint took some shots. Was it a decision that, hey, you just have to find some shots out of your normal comfort zone?
PHIL FORTE: Just trying to make a couple plays, just kind of taking what the defense gave me and just seeing how tight they were playing me and kind of trying to use it to my advantage to attack them.

Q. For Brad, was this the kind of game, the way it became, where you just almost had to score every possession? Looked like a Big 12 football game out there. If you punt, you might lose. If you miss today, you might lose because everybody's scoring so much.
COACH UNDERWOOD: It's pretty much what I expect. I think they're eighth in the country in offensive efficiency or ninth, somewhere right in there. We're first. And I like when we play with tempo. It suits this team.

Phil doesn't get a ton of looks because everybody fears him in spaces and that creates opportunities for those other guys. Leyton played with a couple fouls early.

But, yeah, we score a lot of ways, and tempo was good for us. You sit there and you look. I talked about the rebounding difference. You talk about 50 points in the paint and you lose. The game's changing. To their credit, when you make 3s, you've got a great chance to win.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Oklahoma State.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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